The discoveries will make Turkey less dependent on energy imports from 2023, when the Turkish government expects exploitation. At the moment, Turkey is almost completely dependent on it. Oil and gas mainly come from Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan. Liquefied gas (LNG) is purchased from the United States, Qatar, Nigeria and Algeria.
The Turkish president said that searches in the Sakarya field are continuing. Two drilling ships are currently being deployed. “God willing, there will be more good news from the region,” Erdogan said in a speech in the coastal province of Zonguldak.
The discoveries are not exceptionally large by international standards. The Zohr gas field in the Mediterranean near Egypt, for example, is nearly three times larger. Natural gas reserves in Groningen were ten times larger than the Turkish discoveries. Exploitation also requires investments of billions of euros in infrastructure. For example, a pipeline with a length of 160 kilometers should be built.
The availability of our gas is of strategic importance in the first place. It enables Turkey to be less dependent in negotiations with suppliers, such as Russia. Moscow also uses its position of power to influence Ankara’s foreign policy. Turkey can partly avoid this through its gas production.
The Black Sea is not the only place Turkey is looking for gas. Turkish ships also conducted soil investigations in the Mediterranean last year. This has heightened tensions with arch-rival Greece, as Turkey has also conducted research in waters that Greece considers its exclusive economic zone.
This has even led to a clash between the navies of the two NATO countries. Neighboring countries have been talking to each other again since the beginning of this year. The European Union supports Greece in the dispute.